by Jeffrey Sachs in America
Jesus’ teachings offer good news for the righteous, whether they are the poor and marginalized or the rich who are generous with their bounty. All can find a place in the kingdom. Yet there is little comfort for those who expect that their wealth alone will save them. The story of Lazarus and the rich man is a reminder of the fate of the wealthy who ignore the poor in their midst (Lk 16:19-31).
So we should not be surprised by the highly divergent reactions to Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel.” On the one hand, people across the globe were immediately and powerfully drawn to the pope’s message of hope and social justice. They were stirred by his critique of “the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose,” and they were uplifted by his call for solidarity with the poor (No. 55).
Yet in the United States, a number of the famously rich, and commentators who routinely speak for them, were clearly incensed. “Marxist,” cried a few, and the charge echoed. The pope is “confused,” declared others. And still others tried to deflect the pope’s message by claiming that it was really directed to his own homeland, Argentina, rather than the United States. At least one wealthy individual threatened to withhold a donation for the renovation of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York…